Rainbow Family Tree

tell your story - change the world!

Workshop Blog - Session One

Hi all! Welcome!

It's just possible that I'm as nervous here as I would be if I were standing at the front of a tutorial room doing the intro session... doesn't feel that different (I've just made a long list of things I must remember to say!!).

However, because we're working in a written medium, I'm going to endeavour to keep it short, simple and sweet!

This is session one of ten that will take place over the next five weeks. Whilst members of the Digital Storytelling workshop will be actually CREATING stories, the rest of you (mentors, facilitators, researchers, designers etc) are invited to actively participate... I'm hoping you'll all make an effort to get to know one another, just as you would if we were all in the same room. To help this happen - please join whatever groups you're interested in and 'friend' as many interesting people as possible. From time to time I'll be posting questions and activities 'tailored' for each groups interests, in an effort to lure you into forum discussions. If you've got something you want to talk about please feel free to start your own thread.

Right! Enough housekeeping!

Firstly, have you downloaded the overview manual? DO IT NOW!
'How do I make a Digital Story' RFT_overview_manual.pdf

Have you watched some of the other stories on the site? They'll give you an idea of what you've gotten yourself in for : ) PLEASE, PLEASE post comments to tell the storytellers what you thought, how their tale made you feel, whether there are people you'd like to share their story with... many of them are here in the RFT space as mentors but don't forget they are just starting on the journey of sharing their story with the world, so they're keen to hear from you!

You may also like to have a look at digital stories on some of the sites in the 'interesting links' forum... and if you find some favourites let us know!

Session One Activity

Tell a story about your name... how did you get it? Did you get hassled at school because of it? Have you made your own modifications?

Ultimately the point is: like our identity (gender, sexual, metaphysical etc) we don't normally have a lot of control over how we are labelled... however, we can choose how we'll live with our names, just as we choose how we'll define ourselves...

If doing this gets you thinking more about identity you might want to post some thoughts on the 'GLBTQIA' forum...

You might also like to add a few sentences on why you're here... what you're hoping to get out of the whole 'Rainbow Family Tree' experience ; )

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My name is Sonja Vivienne. I was born Sonja Vivienne Fuller but I used to get called 'fulla-shit', which was annoying. I moved to Sydney when I was around 23 for a few different reasons... to escape my family and the whole 'everyone knows you in Adelaide'. To go to film school (AFTRS)... and to 'come out'. I decided I needed to leave parts of me behind so I changed my name by deed poll to Sonja Vivienne.

I told everyone it was because I needed some distance between me and my biological family... and I told them (my biological family) it was because I didn't have much in common with my dad's side; I didn't believe in patriarchal inheritance of names and I like what they had given me and me alone (Vivienne) better...

Now, years later... I feel a bit silly about the whole thing. My big girl has her dad's name (huh! patriarchal resistance didn't weather well!) and we had to find something to go with 'Vivienne' for my new baby boy (not that easy). Plus, I have to spell the whole thing (including 'Sonja' with a 'j') everytime I give info on the phone... (guess I've cursed him with that too!)

Why I'm here... much longer story... short version: I'm an idealist and optimist. I do believe our stories can change the world (hence testing the theorem in a PhD)... and apart from that, quite frankly, it's an honour helping people with such amazing stories of resilience, survival, hope and inspiration to 'get them out there'...
My name is Marc. It's not short for Marcus - my mum was a mad music fan and decided to spell my name after the so-hot-at-the-time Marc Bolan, frontman for T-Rex. I copped a little bit of hassle through my name in primary school, with some obnoxious little terror calling me 'Marcie' until I lost my temper, but that was about it (I copped much more grief for my girly walk and fey mannerisms than for my fairly unremarkable name).
I'm here because I'm a part of Sonja's family and because I've helped with the delivery of a couple of digital story-telling workshops. I've thoroughly enjoyed being involved, I've met some wonderful people, and I've seen and heard some powerful, touching and inspiring stories. I think this is an excellent forum for many who normally wouldn't be given a public voice in this society to tell their stories, and I can't wait to watch this community grow. See y'all soon.
My name is Nicholas James Crowther. My dad named me after his favourite formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. 4 world championships between them, horrific facial burns and a massive coke habit leading to an untimely death.

The names were pretty much all I inherited from them, although I can drive a car. I'm totally cool with the whole thing.

I'm here in part as a developer of this site, and because I'm very interested in how a social network can be used in such a constructive way. I've been involved in a number of digital storytelling workshops over the last few years.
What do you like about digital storytelling?
My legal name is Michelle Lee Galea, but everyone calls me Molly. I never felt like Michelle 'fit'; it always seemed such an elegant, dainty name. I moved from Melbourne to Northern NSW ten years ago and told everyone to call me Molly. It's interesting your correlation of names with sexual identity - I came out 20 years ago, and changed my name 10 years ago, and I think my parents were equally bewildered and disappointed each time! I don't mind Michelle so much now, and I'm glad I never changed it legally, but it would be silly to change back again. I like my surname; my father's Maltese and I like the connection with that heritage.

I feel it's a lucky accident that I get to join this group - I met Sonja through a mutual friend and was fascinated by the idea of digital storytelling. I want to use the story I create to lobby for change to Queensland's "presumption of parenting" laws - basically, to get my partner recognised as a legal parent of our children.
Great to meet you Molly. I like nicknames as long as the person is ok with it.
Hi...I'm Jenski ...I was born Leanne Jane Simons and when I was married I became Leanne Overton. On my 29th birthday I changed my name to Leanne J Jenski. In the few years before I turned 29 I was on a journey of self discovery and felt that having a males name...i.e my dad (Simons) or my husband at the time (Overton) was not the done thing....so sitting around one weekend with some girlfriends I decided to call myself Baloverginabanksiton… but it was a bit long for the social security boxes so I took two sounds I liked “Gin” and “Ski” and changed the Gin to Jen...and Jenski was created. After I divorced and came out it was even more important for me to have my own name. Now many people call me Jenski as a nickname. I often google Jenski and so far the only other creature on planet earth is a dog in the USA!
That is very funny and the most convoluted way of coming up with a new name I have ever heard!
I was talking with my dad, while moving house last year, and I asked him what my name would have been if I had been born male. He said that 'Sean' was the Scottish/Irish name I was going to be named if I was born a boy. It felt right. So, my name has been Sean for the last year and a half, and will be until the day I depart.
You see, I was born and raised female. I had an amazing childhood, but was so very depressed after the age 6, when I started realising I didn't conect with being female. I didn't understand what that meant until I turned 24. That's alot of lost years. But it's great feeling more and more like my old self. My family is very supportive and I'm blessed with people who love me no matter what. I'm greatful for everything in my life.
Sean, Molly, Jenski - what great stories! I can't wait to see what you'll all come up with in your actual digital stories... it's really not that different to the stories you've just told except you think a bit more about what you're trying to communicate and who you're trying to communicate it to... add some images, a narration, maybe some music... et voila!
My legal name is Melina Michelle Magdalena. My birth name was Melina Michelle Magdalena Barnes. My married name was Melina Michelle Magdalena Wait. When I got divorced I decided to drop the patriarchal last name and go with my middle name as my new last name. I'm very happy with that decision. Before marrying my husband-to-be and I had lengthy discussions about last names but he wouldn't agree to any of my suggestions and so by default I changed my name and I was never happy about that. I never liked the Barnes either - copped plenty of "Jimmy's cousin?" smartarse remarks. I always thought it was too anglo (actually Scottish) and I identified much more closely with my mother's side than my father's. I also was reluctant to go back to Barnes after divorcing and coming out, because of internalised homophobia - assuming I was somehow not acceptable back in that flock as a lesbian.
I'm sad that my kids don't have my name, but they've got their father's last name. When my lesbian partner and I have kids, we'll try to incorporate both of our names and heritages into theirs. T'will be a bit of a mouthful and I'm a tad doubtful about the Magdalena-McClelland blend. LOL
As well as coming out as a lesbian I came out in my 20s as Jewish. And Magdalena doesn't sound very Jewish. But I love the slightly exotic flavour it gives my identity, as many people ask whether I am Spanish or Polish (which I'm not). Although I look like an ordinary middle European white woman (actually northern Italian heritage many generations back by way of Dresden) at least my name identifies me as something a little bit other. It also gives me the chance to identify with my students (adult refugees) who have names that are invariably labelled as "difficult". At least they aren't automatically changed and anglified any more.
Finally, the etymological roots of my first and third names are identical. Which is a little weird but wildly wonderful.
My mother didn't name me for Melina Mercouri. She thought she'd made up the name by mixing the names of her sisters, Monica and Melissa, and was reputedly very upset to discover that it had already been invented. I was supposed to be Melina Michelle Adriana but by father said that sounded like a ship and suggested Magdalena after a Spanish woman he had worked with in Turkey, when he was there with the Peace Corps. The next child (my brother) got called Adrian to his great mortification. He said all his life that when he grew up he wanted to be "John Smith". All of us kids have wonderful names, the most recent being my niece born 3 days ago - Emanuella.
I grew up under the Greek meaning "yellow domesticated songbird" (=canary). I do like to sing, and chose the Jewish name Jonina Shira - Yonenah as the feminine of Jonah with whom I identify strongly and Sheerah as a song.
Enough already!
hmmm, Melina says that I can let you all know that she is slightly obsessed with names - being the proud possessor of at least 6 (I reckon there's more!) baby name books... Hence her long-ish post on this subject!


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